I love to read. I end each day snuggled under my shabby chic bedding, with my head propped on a stack of soft marshmallowy pillows, reading glasses perched on the end of my plastered-in-night-cream nose, tea, warm milk or water on the bedside table and a good book in my hungry hands. I can’t think of a better way to end the day.
But I also enjoy listening to books.
This simple pleasure dates back to the last year I lived in Toronto, the one and only year that I drove in that fabulous and fatiguing city. Back then I particularly enjoyed listening to Wayne Dyer during my drive time to and from work. His soothing and reassuring voice comforted me during many difficult days, and gave me the courage I needed to move 4,000 miles across the country with two kids and 3 cats and with absolutely no prospect for work. Nada. There was only this inexplicable and powerful yearning to go west, the kind that I imagine the early pioneers must have possessed. And there was also the unwavering belief that a better life waited for us on the other side of the mountains, next to the big blue sea.
Plus, I just had faith. Faith that if I did this very big and scary thing, it would all turn out okay. That God and the Universe and my Fairy Godmother would provide. We 3 Kings would be taken care of. And we were.
Some of my favorite audio books have been Christmas gifts from my son. There have been a few where I’ve thought, “this can’t possibly be something I’d enjoy. What was he thinking?” But those were often the very ones that I’ve enjoyed the most. Like Beyond the White House by Jimmy Carter or The Elephant to Hollywood by Michael Caine or the one he gave me this year Brief Encounters by Dick Cavett. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved Billy Crytsal’s Still Foolin’ Em. I laughed and cried in equal doses listening to this one and was reminded once again why I’m such a huge fan of this man.
All really wonderful books that I probably never would have even given a second glance had he not been given them to me.
I just finished listening to Smarty Pants by Tina Fey. I read the book when it first came out in paperback and it was an enormously entertaining read. But listening to Tina read her own words, was nothing short of brilliant. I realized that the voice inside my head reading Smarty Pants was all wrong. It was me doing Tina. So to hear the real McCoy was heavenly and a much richer experience.
The thing I like the most about listening to audio books is the intimacy of being alone in my truck while someone’s reading to me. There’s just something precious, no matter how old you are, about having someone read to you. For that brief encounter, I am able to suspend all disbelief, and imagine that I’m sitting with Barack Obama or Steve Martin or Bill Bryson or The Beatles while they tell me – just me – a very personal story about their life. It’s beautiful and lovely. I highly recommend it. Not as a replacement for reading books. I would never in a million years suggest such bibliophilic blasphemy. But in addition to reading, and especially if you’re crunched for time.
You can listen and learn something new. Listen and laugh out loud. Listen and cry your eyes out. Listen and ponder the wonders of the universe.
Or you can just listen. And enjoy.